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Artificial left leg, Roehampton, England, 1926

Artificial left leg, Roehampton, England, 1926

Credits: National Railway Museum

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Until well into the 1900s, the only artificial limbs available to many amputees were simple peg legs and hooks. The number of injured servicemen requiring false limbs after the First World War resulted in improved designs and new materials. This false leg is made from leather and Duralumin. Duralumin is an aluminium and copper alloy. It was used in airships because of its lightness and strength. The leg was made by the Hanger company at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton in west London. Queen Mary’s opened in 1915. It became a major centre for artificial limb-making and fitting.

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Glossary: orthopaedics

The branch of medicine concerned with the preservation and restoration of the muscular and skeletal systems in the body.

Glossary: artificial leg

A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.